Jerry Sandusky's attorney, Joseph Amendola, has made one misstep after another, from continually sticking his foot in his mouth during a press conference Tuesday to allowing his client to conduct media interviews that only made him look worse. However, his strategy of waiving Tuesday's public hearing was a good move for his client because it gives Sandusky more bargaining chips if he hopes to spend anything short of the rest of his life behind bars.
Had the hearing proceeded as planned, eleven different witnesses would have taken the stand and been subject to cross-examination by Amendola as well. In the Court of public opinion, their testimonies would have produced some sensational evidence and any cross-examination would have only made Sandusky look worse. Yet, by bringing an abrupt halt to the morning, Amdendola spared these accusers from testifying and stopped their stories from getting out to the public, at least for now. At this point, eight of the accusers have only testified in front of a grand jury, which is closed to the public. The moment any of Sandusky's accusers testify and records of their testimony spread like wildfire in the media, people across the nation are going to demand retribution, putting more pressure on the prosecution to forego any plea bargain and proceed to an open public trial. Yet, by keeping the lid on public outrage, this gives Sandusky some hope of a plea bargain.
Amendola can claim that by waiving a preliminary hearing, and allowing the case to proceed directly to trial, he is, for now, saving these kids from public embarrassment. This gives him an upper hand when asking for a plea bargain because that would keep all of the alleged victims' names and stories private. While arrangements had been made for the accusers to not give their names in court, be driven to court in unmarked vehicles, and enter through a private entrance, the press is all over this case, and I'm sure their identities would have been revealed.
Amendola claimed in Tuesday's outrageous press conference on the court steps that there will be no plea negotiation and "this is a fight to the death." However, this very well could be another strategy to try to keep an upper hand. Amendola may be leading prosecutors to believe he's prepared to proceed all the way to a jury trial, which will most likely take place in late summer or early fall, and then on the eve of the trial, just as accusers are preparing to testify yet again, ask for a plea bargain. Sandusky faces 52 counts of sexual abuse, his only bargaining power here is to spare these accusers a public "outing" in exchange for a plea deal.
If the case does indeed go to trial and Amendola really is preparing a fight to the death, than at least by waiving Tuesday's hearing, he now has more time to prepare a defense. The prosecution must give him all of their evidence, which includes the grand jury testimony by all of the accusers, and now he'll have several months to try to find some evidence to impeach their testimony.
Yes, Tuesday's press conference was filled with eye-roll worthy moments, like when Amendola told anyone who believed Mike McQueary's claims he witnessed Sandusky raping a child to call 1-800-REALITY, which turned out to be gay sex hotline. However, Tuesday's move to waive the hearing was the first smart tactic I've seen out of Sandusky's defense team.
Follow Mari Fagel on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MariFagel